Tuesday 03 May 2022
We have launched a new campaign with our Ambassador Janet Ellis to raise awareness of issues faced by family and friends of people with cancer.
Our You Care, We Care campaign aims to raise awareness of the range of emotions looking after someone you love with cancer can bring – even if you don’t think of yourself as a ‘carer’.
Working with One Poll, we carried out a survey which revealed that almost 90% of people looking after someone with cancer have experienced feelings of anger at their situation.
The survey also revealed that that 71% of people felt guilty for feeling angry and the same figure didn’t know what to do with these feelings when they experienced them.
Maggie’s Ambassador, writer and broadcaster Janet Ellis understands the range of emotions living with and looking after someone with cancer brings. Her husband John died in 2020 after living with cancer for four years.
"I completely get this. Helping to look after someone you love who has cancer often brings with it some unexpected and unwelcome emotions. It’s exhausting, both physically and mentally and that alone can change the dynamic of your relationship.
"It’s easy to feel despondent, frustrated, guilty and yes, sometimes, angry about what’s going on and even with the person at the heart of it. It’s not how you think you’ll react and that can be frightening and worrying in itself.
"That’s why it’s really important to make sure you care for yourself, too and seek support, advice and guidance if you need it. Maggie’s is so fantastic at offering all this – and for free- to anyone looking after someone with cancer. You can just go to a centre and have a chat with the friendly staff, who’ll do everything they can to help.
"Anger, guilt and helplessness are all emotions that Maggie’s professional staff see in their centres daily from people caring for loved ones with cancer and why the charity’s free psychological support is just as important for family and friends as it is for the people with cancer themselves."
Charles, who is a Maggie’s centre ambassador, has been looking after his husband Martin since he was diagnosed with cancer nine years-ago. He has had to stop work and dedicates most of his time and energy to looking after Martin in what time they have left together.
The 62-year-old, who has written ten top tips for helping someone who is looking after someone with cancer, said:
"No-one knows about any of this before they become a carer but every carer is extremely vulnerable in all sorts of ways.
"I have felt a huge amount of anger...not at my husband, but at the situation, the loss of special memories we should have been making together, our uncertain future and the strain it has put on me and our marriage at what should be such a special time.
"I also had to give up work because the strain over so many years caused a huge deterioration in my mental health. The fact is if you don’t look after yourself you will get sick."
Our Chief Executive Dame Laura Lee, said:
"A cancer diagnosis sends a ripple through the whole family, but with so much focus on the person with the diagnosis the needs of close family and friends can be forgotten. And yet, they can need just as much support as the person diagnosed.
"We also know that when family and friends find the support they need, there is a hugely positive impact on the person with cancer.
"Yet many people looking after a friend or family member with cancer don’t consider themselves to be carers or realise that we can support them too.
"I hear many people say things like ‘I’m not a carer – he is my husband’ or ‘I don’t think of myself as a carer, we are just in this together’ – many people don’t need or want a label, but that doesn’t mean we can’t support them.
We want everyone to understand that whether someone thinks of themselves as a carer or not, our centres are waiting to welcome them.
"It might just be somewhere to take a moment for themselves, or to speak to our expert staff about the variety tailored support we can offer, including better understanding treatment options, money worries and psychological support.
"Coming to Maggie’s for support for yourself is the best way possible of supporting the person you love with cancer."
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